St. Augustine to break ground on permanent VA clinic in 2019

Permanent VA clinic opening for local veterans

After years of waiting, St. Johns County veterans will soon get a permanent Veterans Affairs clinic.

It will replace the temporary building that veterans are now using for their medical needs.

A rendering was released by the VA to show what the new and permanent clinic will look like once it’s finished.

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Once it finally opens, it will have been nine years in the making.

Bill Dudley, chairman of the Veterans Council of St. Johns County has been there every step of the way.

“It has been a long time coming actually,” said Dudley.

Action News Jax documented the saga that led to an at times tense back and forth between the county that offered the VA a spot in its new Health and Human Services building and the VA that insisted it needed to follow federal procurement protocols.

The drawn-out process took years and Dudley says it was also wasteful.

“We think there was a lot of taxpayer money that was squandered in this decision process,” said Dudley.

In the end, the VA chose Construction Managers Inc. out of North Carolina as the contractor for the project. The company was the same one the county would have used to build out the clinic at the Health and Human Services building on San Sebastian View, according to Dudley.

Dudley said he’s looking forward to putting all that in the past and moving forward.

“We’re happy that they have now selected a site, actually the new site is pretty centrally located,” said Dudley.

The new building will be just off State Road 207 in the Deerfield Preserve which is not far from the current temporary clinic near Old Moultrie Road.

“It’s better for me because it’s closer to my house,” said Marine Corps veteran Brennen Bettin.

Veterans we spoke to are looking forward to a nicer, more modern, clinic than what they have now.

“I think it’ll be great. It [the temporary facility] reminds me of a medical facility we had in the Middle East. It’s kind of a baron clinic,” said Navy veteran Shane Tong.

The good news is that services for St. Johns County vets were never interrupted throughout the process. For many, having a VA clinic nearby is key.

“The care has been pretty decent here so hopefully that transfers over,” said Tong.

The new clinic will continue to provide primary care, mental health, podiatry, nutrition, laboratory, home-based primary care and physical therapy.

Work is expected to begin next June and completion is projected for June 2020.